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Baseball sometimes sucks; Cards lose 5-2 to Astros

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If you came into this game worried about Jaime Garcia, you left this game... worried about Jaime Garcia.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What a thoroughly, uninteresting boring game.  It's the type of game that's boring if you're losing, and riveting if you're winning.  Well probably not, but winning sure helps.  Besides two home runs, there was absolutely nothing about this game worth watching.  Jaime Garcia pitched decent, but not great.  Doug Fister pitched decent, but not great.  The Astros bullpen shut the Cards down though... which is not exactly something that's going to make a game more interesting if you're a Cardinals fan.

The Cardinals started the scoring off with a Matt Adams solo shot in the top of the 2nd inning.  Besides a Matt Carpenter bunt single to lead off the game, that was literally the only hit in the first five innings.  To make matters worse, Doug Fister was striking guys out and not throwing a lot of pitches.  Greg Garcia had, for my money, probably his two worst plate appearances the entire season in his first two times at the plate.  In his first PA, he looked at a strike right down the middle on a 1-2 count.  On his second one, he swung at a pitch in the dirt on a 3-2 count.  Fister is one of those annoying pitchers whose stuff doesn't seem that impressive so you wonder why nobody can hit the ball.  (Granted, usually they DO hit the ball - even with tonight's 6 Ks in 7.1 IP, he has a very low 5.63 K/9)

Jaime Garcia started the game fine.  He allowed a hit that immediately got removed from a double play ball in the 1st.  In the 2nd, he got what ended up being his only strikeouts of the game, striking out both Carlos Correa and Colby Rasmus.  In the 3rd, the struggling Carlos Gomez lined a single to center.  Marwin Gonzalez followed with a groundball that found a hole - a little to the left and it's an easy double play.  Fister placed down a successful sacrifice bunt and George Springer drove in a run on a groundball out.  I think this is what some people call "manufacturing runs."  In the 4th, all three batters hit into groundouts.  Like I said, he started the game fine.

In the 5th, Rasmus led off with a home run, Gomez laid down a bunt single and Gonzalez hit a line drive double to right field to drive in Gomez.  Fister again bunted, but this time the runner stayed at second, which was important, because Gonzalez tried to steal third off Yadier Molina.  That's not something I'd ever recommend doing if you intend to score.  Garcia finished the inning with yet another groundout.

In the 6th, the Astros repeated the 1st inning, with a single by Jose Altuve immediately getting canceled out by another double play ball.  Brandon Moss hit an opposite field home run to get the Cardinals' their second run.  The Cardinals best chance at winning happened in this inning.  Matt Holliday worked a walk, Fister's only walk of the evening.  Stephen Piscotty then hit a deep fly ball to right field, but it wasn't hit far enough.

In the 7th, Garcia's night came to a close after Rasmus hit a 1-out single.  Seung Oh came in and immediately got let down by his defense.  Matt Adams was in position to field a hard hit ball, but it hit off the top of his glove and he couldn't find it, allowing both runners to be safe on the play.  If he successfully fielded it, it was probably a 3-6 double play.  (Tag first, throw him out at second if you don't keep score)  Gonzalez hit a groundout to the right side that advanced both runners bring up Fister.

So you're the manager.  There are men on 2nd and 3rd with two outs.  Your pitcher is up.  He just allowed a home run and a walk the last inning.  His pitch count is low so he can easily throw another inning.  It's also the 7th inning and you're coming off an off-day so it's not like bullpen fatigue is going to factor into your decision.  Seems obvious right?  Well he batted.  And... because it's the Cardinals, he got a hit to drive in two runs.  (If you're an Astros fan, this is a thing.  Cardinals allowed RBIs to pitchers like you allow RBIs to designated hitters.)  Baseball.  Sometimes you suck.

Matt Bowman pitched a spotless 8th inning and the Cardinals threatened again in the 8th... barely.  Jeremy Hazelbaker led off with a single.  Carpenter didn't get a good swing, but the ball was hit far enough to make A.J. Hinch bring in a new pitcher.  Tony Sipp then struck out Moss.  Hinch brought in Ken Giles.  He struck out Holliday.  Ho hum.  Tyler Lyons pitched a 1-2-3 inning, but so did Will Harris to close out the game.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Notes

- Jaime Garcia final line: 6.1 IP, 2 Ks, 8 hits, 4 runs (3 ER), HR; If you want to be worried about Garcia, the two strikeouts is concerning.  If you want to be comforted by tonight's start, his xFIP was 3.26 because the man got groundballs and walked nobody.

- Carpenter played good defense tonight - really good defense actually.  He seems to be a much better defender at 2B than he has ever been at 3B.  Due to his somewhat weak arm strength, this makes sense to me.

- I think the Greg Garcia OBP train is over sadly.  Neither he nor Jhonny Peralta could figure Fister out for some reason.

- Fister amazingly allowed enough flyballs to make a 6 K, BB performance unimpressive.  He had a 5.44 FIP, which is to be expected when you allow 2 homers, but he also had a 4.35 xFIP, which you wouldn't at all expect with that K/BB ratio.

- I won't say this for many baseball games, but if you missed this, you are better off than if you actually watched it.

Tomorrow the Cardinals try not to get swept.  Technically.  Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think you can call something a sweep unless it's three games.  Disappointing pitcher who has pitched better as of late (Adam Wainwright) faces off against disappointing pitcher who has decided to strike everyone out as of late and still kind of be disappointing. (Colin McHugh with a 10.98 K/9 in his last five games and... a 4.75 ERA)